Qatar has appointed 28 new members to one of its most important consultative bodies, including four women, a royal decree announced.
The women will sit on the 45-strong Shura Council, which is responsible for discussing draft laws, general government policy and the state’s draft budget, state media said on Thursday.
“Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued an emiri decree renewing the membership of some Shura Council members and appointing 28 new members to include women for the first time in the history of the … council,” Qatar News Agency reported, citing a statement.
The women appointed are Hind Abdul Rahman al-Muftah, Hessa Sultan al-Jaber, Reem al-Mansoori and Aisha Yousef al-Mannai.
The announcement comes as Qatar continues to deal with a five-month long diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, which has seen the country politically and economically blockaded by neighbouring countries – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt.
Since the crisis began, Doha has made several notable social policy changes, including changes to its residency laws and labour laws to protect the two million-plus migrant workers in Qatar.
The four newly elected women are not the first to enter politics in Qatar; in 2015, two women were voted on to the country’s only directly elected body, the 29-strong central municipal council.
Previously, Jaber became only the third woman appointed to the cabinet, when she was selected as communications minister in 2013.
Qatar announced it would hold elections to the Shura Council in 2007, but the vote was subsequently postponed. A new date for the election has yet to be announced.